By Asma’u Ahmad
The Acting Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Health Care Development Board, Dr Mathew Ashikeni, has urged Federal and State Governments to engage massive healthcare workers to reduce child mortality in the country.
Ashikeni gave the advice in Abuja on Wednesday while reacting to a global report released by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on infant mortality during an interview with newsmen.
It would be recall that the report released by UNICEF on Tuesday ranked Nigeria 11th highest on newborn deaths in the world. But Ashikeni explained that apart from focusing on infrastructural development in the health sector, a lot needs to be done to address manpower shortage in ensuring effective, efficient and functional primary healthcare across the country.
According to him, the federal government needs to strengthen its Midwives Service Scheme Programme where midwives will be deployed to rural communities. “Constructing PHC facilities without them being functioning will not solve the problems responsible for maternal and infant mortality. “Availability of skilled and motivated work force is key and important in addressing the challenge of child mortality in the country,” he said.
Dr Ashikeni also advised the federal and state governments to scale up budgetary provisions to address numerous challenges in the health sector. He said that World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended not less than 15 per cent annual budget should be allocated to healthcare and Nigeria was still far from that.
The board secretary noted that some of the ailments that killed children in the country were preventable. He added that the infant death in the country was still higher than the global average of 27 per 1,000 live births. According to him, the Nigeria average stands at 39 per 1,000 live births. Besides, Ashikeni attributed high child mortality rate to poor hygiene and nutrition which often exposed children to infections.